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Thread: IQ: Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS vs f4.0 (5D2 x1.0 FF)

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    Lightbulb IQ: Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS vs f4.0 (5D2 x1.0 FF)

    Having owned the f/2.8 IS for about 2 weeks on the 40D I switched to the f4 IS for cost and weight issues. I also remember that the f4 was sharper wide open and across the range on the 40D then the f2.8.

    But since purchasing a FF 5D2 i wanted to test for myself if this still holds true on the FF.


    Test set up
    • Canon 5D2
    • Canon 70-200mmL F2.8 IS
    • Canon 70-200mmL F4.0 IS
    • Tripod in same position
    • Tested at 70mm and 200mm @ ISO200
    • The neighbors high contrast wall


    The test images.


    5D2

    @ 70mm



    Center Crops

    Left Image = 2.8 Lens- Right Image = 4.0 Lens

    f/2.8


    f/4.0


    f/5.6


    f/8.0


    f/11.0



    Corner Crops


    Left Image = 2.8 Lens- Right Image = 4.0 Lens

    f/2.8


    f/4.0


    f/5.6


    f/8.0


    f/11.0





    @ 200mm



    Center Crops

    Left Image = 2.8 Lens- Right Image = 4.0 Lens

    f/2.8


    f/4.0


    f/5.6


    f/8.0


    f/11.0



    Corner Crops


    Left Image = 2.8 Lens- Right Image = 4.0 Lens

    f/2.8


    f/4.0


    f/5.6


    f/8.0


    f/11.0




    Observations:


    @ 70mm end - Center
    The 2.8 lens is soft wide open. But as both lenses are at f4.0. Things look better and they are almost identical in terms of sharpness.
    If you look really really closely. the F4 lens has very very slightly better contrast

    @ 70mm end - Corners
    The 2.8 lens is soft wide open.
    The 2.8 lens gets better at around f/5.6 but the f4 lens is sharper throughout the range.

    @ 200mm end - Center
    The 2.8 lens is soft wide open as expected.
    Both lenses look sharp @ f/5.6 till f8.0.
    Then the F4 lens looks to have slightly better sharpness

    @ 200mm end - Corners
    Very surprised at the results. At first i thought i switched the images but i triple checked.
    The 2.8 lens is sharper in the corners then the f4 lens.
    There is also noticeable red shift in the f4 lens.


    Conclusion:


    Well. both lenses are quite good in terms of IQ. We are looking at mega 400%+ crops here so in real life it wouldn't effect IQ that much.

    When choosing a 2.8 or 4.0 version i would suggest.
    Consider
    • Cost (Significant 30-40% difference in price )
    • Weight (the 2.8 is a heavy lens x2 the weight of the f4)
    • If you really need f/2.8 for sports?
    Last edited by trigger; 19-08-2009 at 8:59pm.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo is not a canon user Trigger. However, this is a top test for any lens. Carried out in my view very well. Credible methods and results. Mongo too got identical observations, surprises and conclusions looking at your images. I often look for lens tests, MTF charts and reviews. Yours is as good as any. The time and effort to share the results with us is very much appreciated. I will be looking at others if you post them.

    Also not entirely surprised that the more expensive faster glass is not always the best.

    Thanks - Mongo
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    I am also not a Canon user but this is a top test and I really enjoyed looking at it and the results.

    Paul

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser DAdeGroot's Avatar
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    I am a Canon user and have the 2.8 IS version of the lens. I'm not at all surprised by the results and would not trade my lens for the f/4 version.

    f/2.8, although a little soft, at these resolutions, in actual use, is quite acceptable and I've had numerous instances where it was needed (over the slower f/4). Yes it's heavy, and large, but for me, worth it.

    What I will add, and I think these results support it, no matter which Canon 70-200 you buy, you won't be disappointed in the IQ area
    Dave

    http://www.degrootphotography.com.au/
    Canon EOS 1D MkIV | Canon EOS 5D MkII | Canon EOS 30D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM | Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM | Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM | Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L & some non-L lenses.

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    Yup. I think in real world applications the difference in IQ is minimal. The cost and weight are not :\

    Note about this test. I might do another test under better conditions, controlled lighting, standard distances / hyper focal distances. @ 135mm.

    Also might do one with the x1.6 crop 40D

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    Member Dawixe's Avatar
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    I've been iching to get a 70-200 for a while now.....
    I'm still leaning on the 2.8 IS side with the only worry of the weight. What I really want to know is does the extra weight really make it harder to hand hold the thing? Is the extra speed plagued by that extra weight?

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    Well i think with a grip you can balance it out. What do you intend to shoot with it?
    If its mission critical stuff like indoor events and weddings then the 2.8 is a must as you only get paid if you get the shots.

    General usage its overkill. Think of it as a big. fast. expensive ..tool. Its just that. If you dont need the extra shutter speed then carrying one around kinda makes you look like a tool IMO

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    interesting test, and well worth the effort for those contemplating whether to get one or the other.

    by the sounds of it, your summary, Trigger, sounds about spot on weight price and speed seem to be the only reasons to choose one over the other.

    but it seems that the f/4 version is exposing more brightly by about 1/3Ev in the center, and vignettes more at 200mm and f/4, to be expected especially considering the shape of the f/4's lens hood(traditional rather than petal shaped).

    what about focusing speeds, efficiency of the IS system, etc.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    The Commander mikew09's Avatar
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    Trigger, excellent test. Answered some important questions for me as I have been toiling over which 7-200L to get as my first L series and price is important (amateur not a PRO) and I don't think the f/2 justifies the extra cost for me.
    Most of the action photo's I do are at horse events (95% out doors) of which my kit 55-250IS has served me well and to date there has only been one occasion where lighiting was an issue - a covered horse arena - no flash. Having said this I still managed some sale-able shots. My deliberation was mostly around IQ of which your review has helped.
    I think the f/4 will do me fine and with the saving I will put it towards a descent flash.

    Great review - look forward to the followups.
    Please be honest with your Critique of my images. I may not always agree, but I will not be offended - CC assists my learning and is always appreciate

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    Canon 5D3 - Gripped, EF 70-200 L IS 2.8 MkII, , 24-105 L 4 IS MkI, 580 EX II Speedlite, 2x 430 Ex II Speedlite


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    Thanks all for the input. Its possible that the f4 sample might be in need of servicing and i've submitted it to Canon today to have it calibrated and check the red shift @200mm

    In the mean time. Any one in Sydney have a Tamron 70-200mm or Sigma 70-200mm they are willing for me to put to the tests?

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser DAdeGroot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trigger View Post
    Yup. I think in real world applications the difference in IQ is minimal. The cost and weight are not :\

    Price yes, weight not so much. It's only 1.5kg, and compared to longer glass, that's quite light. Of course if you're carting around a lot of gear, it tends to add up.

    Personally I like the extra weight as on the 5DII with grip and a 580exII on top, it all balances quite nicely.

    Definitely though for studio portrait work, you could easily get away with the f/4, as you usually want more DoF than f/2.8 can provide anyway, but when the narrow DoF or shutter speed counts, then I'm more than happy to know I have it available.

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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    I'd rather the lug the f/4 around.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    f o t o w o r x

    People taking the time out to give me CC is always very much appreciated

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    Great test, Trigger, thanks for taking the time to post up the results.

    Both great lenses - can't go wrong with either. For me, the lighter weight of the f/4 swung the day. Note also that for the same price (f/2.8 and f/4 IS are about the same $$$), with the F/4 you get IS which for some people is as big an advantage as the extra stop of light.

    PS my POTW161 was taken with my 70-200mm f/4 IS, wide open at f/4.
    Richard
    Canon 5D4 | 11-24 f/4 L | 24-105 f/4 L| 100-400 L II | 85 f/1.2 L | 100 f/2.8 L macro | MP-E 65 f/2.8 macro | 1.4x | 580EX2 | MT-24 Twin Lite | Manfrotto | Photoshop CS5


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    Thanks for taking the time to test, Trigger!!
    Excellent comparison for those looking at a 70-200 lens.

    From experience, there is only a marginal difference in sharpness.
    The f4 variants have a slightly shorter MFD and more accurate at close distances too.

    I've owned 2 copies of the f4, 1 of the f4 IS, and 1 of the 2.8 IS
    Both have pros and cons, that's why i still have both
    Last edited by R1titan; 21-08-2009 at 4:35pm.
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for this comparison trigger,
    I've been using a 2.8 IS on my 450D over the weekend (hired it from brisbane camera hire) and don't want to give it back, it's such a great lens, heavy compared to my lenses, but i still felt fine after 3-4hrs shooting, looks very impressive for it's focal length.
    Up until now i was having a hard time deciding which one i should buy, but after reading through this post i am leaning towards the 800 odd dollar less f4.
    Jayde

    Honest CC whether good or bad, is much appreciated.
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    Great test, and very worthwhile. For anyone interested in the 2.8, there is a non-IS version too that is quite a bit cheaper than IS version and close to the price of the f4. see our sponsor for details. I have the non-IS 2.8 and I am really happy with the results so far, and must admit haven't had an issue with not having IS yet.

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    Member trizvanov's Avatar
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    I just wanted to chime in and say that I've had my 70-200mm F4.0 for 2.5 years now and I find it fantastic!

    The only time I have issues is when the light is less than perfect.

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    Site Rules Breach - Permanent Ban JCT's Avatar
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    i love my f4, even more so now after looking thru your test

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    Serial Truant.... phild's Avatar
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    Ditto, I love my F4, I don't think I'd opt for the F2.8 even if buying again although, I suspect that the F2.8 would be more usable than the F4 with the 1.4 and 2x TC's.
    Phil

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    Got the F4 without the IS and its a beauty - Sometimes you wonder if YOU are going to want/need 2.8 more often than not and its more an ego thing than anything else...others might be able to afford to pay for it, I certainly wont. At the end of the day isnt it the results YOU get that count, not the lens that shot it ?

    This test reinforces my commitment to get the lens/es I need, not the latest and apparently not always the 'greatest' .. thanks for the effort.
    Comments and CC welcome..

    Gear: Canon 6D & 1Ds Cameras l Canon EF 17-40mm F 4.0 L USM l Canon EF 24-105mm F4.0 L IS USM l Canon EF 70 - 200 F4.0 L USM Lenses I Manfrotto Tripods I Adobe Photoshop CS6 l Lightroom 3.0 I Lee Filters



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